2001: A Space Odyssey is generally considered to be the absolute best that the sci-fi genre has to offer. It asks big questions, doesn't answer a whole lot of them and features visual effects that, frankly, still haven't been topped in many ways. It's a necessary part of the film canon, despite being regarded as nebulously confusing for many viewers.
So how do you make one of the most challenging movies of all time even more difficult to grasp? By splitting the 160-minute running time into 569 GIFs, of course.
This experiment is the brainchild of digital producer and copywriter Jean-Baptiste Henri Franck Cyrille Marie Le Divelec, who embarked upon the project as a way to stretch copyright and Fair Use laws to their limit.
JB told The Creators Project: "I am trying to see where we can go in GIF-making while keeping GIF limitations. The fact that GIFs are soundless or contain only 256 colors gives me a little 'buffer' against some pure copyright infringement arguments.”
It's true that most of the time GIFs are seen as so short and harmless that studios and companies don't go through the hassle of ordering takedowns. In fact, in certain instances, like for movie trailers, fans spreading GIFs can be seen as a marketing technique, especially when big-money eye candy is concerned.
Recently, though, companies like the NFL have targeted GIFs for takedown, and others will likely follow suit in the future. And when you split an all-time classic movie into hundreds of GIFs for free, you might be pushing the boundaries just a bit.
For right now, the GIFs are still up and exist both as an artistic experiment and a way to paint a clearer picture of what is and isn't legally acceptable in the digital space. There is no word on if or when any action will be taken against JB, but you can see the GIFs over on the project's Giphy page or head to his website to see more work by the artist.
Pro tip: If you've never seen 2001, watching 569 mute GIFs that will likely crash your browser is not the way to experience it.